For immediate release
July 18, 2014
Jeremy Cruz-Haicken (Local 737)
Eric Clinton (Local 362)
UNITE HERE leaders pleased with unprecedented economic gains
ORLANDO – The Service Trades Council Union and Walt Disney World Resort came to a tentative agreement late Thursday for a contract covering 21,000 full-time cast members.
The tentative deal includes unprecedented wage increases, limits employees’ healthcare costs and protects cast members’ defined benefit pension plan. The contract goes to the general union membership for a vote of final approval on August 1.
The agreement lifts starting hourly pay from the current minimum of $8.03 to $9 in 2014, $9.50 in 2015 and $10 in 2016. Workers who are above those minimum rates will receive $.50 per hour increases in each of the 3 years.
Most significantly, the agreement calls for no increase in employees’ weekly health insurance contributions in 2015. That freeze in employees’ healthcare costs is the first in many years.
“We are extremely proud to have reached such an unprecedented milestone for thousands of Disney workers,” said Jeremy Cruz-Haicken, president of UNITE HERE Local 737. “The agreement includes the biggest wage increase workers have seen in recent memory.”
“We have set a new standard for workers in the Central Florida hospitality industry, and it is because of the tremendous participation of cast members who wanted to make their voices heard in the negotiating process. I feel inspired and proud,” said Eric Clinton, president of UNITE HERE 362.
Together, UNITE HERE Locals 737 and Local 362 represent more than 60% of the full-time workers represented in the Service Trades Council Union. The two UNITE HERE unions are made up of custodians, housekeepers, attractions attendants, and food and beverage employees, many of whom were participating in union negotiations for the first time. One thousand workers paraded near Downtown Disney earlier this summer, demonstrating enthusiasm for a new contract.
Negotiations have been on going since workers’ contract expired in March. Thursday’s tentative settlement came just minutes before the contract extension was set to expire at 11:59 PM yesterday.
UNITE HERE! Local 362 and Local 737 represent 22,000 hospitality and tourism workers in Central Florida who work at Walt Disney World, Orlando International Airport, the Orange County Convention Center and several hotels.